Symantec: Government must jump-start IT security

The U.S. government should take steps to enable information-sharing regarding cyberattacks and to boost the number of IT security experts in the country, a Symantec Corp. executive told a gathering of press and congressional staffers at the Computer Security Conference and Exhibition held last week.

Recent worms, such as Code Red and Nimda, which wreaked havoc on both public and private sector networks, have exposed the extent to which digital information is vulnerable, said Gail Hamilton, Symantec’s executive vice president of product delivery and response. “These blended threats combine an arsenal of tricks to really do damage,” she said, pointing to the Nimda worm that had four different methods of propagating throughout the Internet.

While commending the Bush administration for naming Richard Clarke chairman of the President’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Board that will lead the government’s charge against cyberterrorism, Hamilton said that lawmakers can take further steps to help ensure the security of both public and private networks.

First, they should establish a partnership with the private sector to share information regarding cyberattacks. Second, they could fund more university level research and development in security. And third, they should increase the number of security professionals working in both the public and private sector by funding scholarship programs for training.

While acknowledging that some Congressional committees are drafting bills that would include provisions for such steps, Hamilton said that with so much at stake the government must act quickly to reinforce IT security.

“There’s a lot of discussion going on, but (the government) really needs to move faster,” she said.

Symantec Corp., based in Cupertino, Calif., can be reached at or at